March from Ground Zero to Republican National Convention Followed by Nonviolent Civil Disobedience Action Today Print
* * Interviews Available (see below)

WHERE: Cortlandt St. at Ground Zero
WHEN: 3 pm Vigil - 4 pm March leaves Ground Zero

New York ? Hundreds of activists participating in nonviolent direct action to protest the Republican National Convention will converge at Ground Zero at 3 pm this afternoon to march towards Madison Square Garden. Walking north on Broadway in a solemn two by two procession, the group will arrive at the site of the Republican National Convention by 7pm. There, activists calling for the closure of the School of the Americas and an end to current US military intervention will enact a ?die-in? in the street.

?The Bush administration claims it?s bringing democracy to Iraq. Past administrations, while supporting death squads, made the same claims about Latin America,? stated School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) activist Tom Mahedy. ?But we?re here on the streets today to tell Bush that you cannot spread true democracy through the barrel of a gun.?

The School of the Americas, recently renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC, is a military training school for Latin American security forces located at Fort Benning, Georgia. The school, funded by US taxpayer money, has trained over 60,000 Latin Americans in such courses as counter-insurgency, sniper training, psychological warfare and interrogation techniques. Graduates of the school have been consistently linked to human rights violations across the Americas.

SOA Watch is working in conjunction with the War Resisters League, the A31 Action Coalition and other organizations in planning for a full day of nonviolent direct actions throughout New York City today during the Republican National Convention. Nonviolent direct action has played a foundational role in movements for social change in the US and around the world, from the Boston Tea Party to lunch counter sit-ins. It has also been a key element in publicly exposing the connections between training at the SOA/WHINSEC and human rights abuses across Latin America.

?Today we are acting in the spirit of a long tradition of social movements,? said Ana Grady Flores, an SOA Watch activist from Ithaca, NY. ?We march today as part of a global movement to demand the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC and to say yes to a world of justice!?

* * Interviews Available

Ana Grady Flores, 18, of Ithaca, New York, is a recent high school graduate and a community activist affiliated with the Ithaca Catholic Worker. Ana has been working to close down the School of the Americas for several years. In December of 2002, Ana was arrested with three other young people while participating in a die-in in a military recruiting station in an Ithaca mall.

Tom Mahedy, of Wall, New Jersey, is a laborer and father of two young daughters. In November of 2001, Tom was arrested for ?crossing the line? onto Fort Benning, Georgia to call for the closure of the School of the Americas. For this act of nonviolent civil disobedience, Tom was sentenced to and served three months in federal prison.

For interviews, contact Christy Pardew at 202-903-7257.

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